25 April 2012. Yesterday at this year’s Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum in Washington, D.C., Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius gave a status report on the National Alzheimer's Plan, a stipulation of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (see ARF related news story). “Alzheimer’s has never attracted sufficient attention or resources,” Sebelius said. “Our administration has taken action to move Alzheimer’s out of the shadows and make it a national priority.”
President Obama signed NAPA into law in 2011. Over the last six months, the administration and the NAPA advisory council have gone through several drafts of the National Alzheimer's Plan, incorporating input from leaders and advocates, and will release the final version in May. The plan will include concrete ways to improve education and outreach for the public and healthcare professionals, as well as expand patient and caregiver support in the community, Sebelius said. To be updated and evaluated yearly based on the latest research results, the plan will improve collection of data that clarify the disease’s impact on patients, caregivers, and the healthcare system, she said.
In February 2012 the administration pledged $130 million to AD research ($50 million this year and $80 million to be requested for 2013) and an additional $26 million in the 2013 budget for education, outreach, caregiver support, and healthcare provider training (see ARF related news story). Sebelius announced that a part of the latter will go toward an awareness campaign aimed at patients and caregivers to point them toward resources to help manage the disease. More of those funds will go to geriatric centers to develop educational materials and free training for health professionals. These will include a centralized website with videos and fact sheets to help improve the diagnosis of AD and patient care. "We still have a lot of work to do," said Sebelius.—Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib.